Food Runners

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Twenty-five.  Everyone looks good at twenty-five.  Especially Food Runners.  One night, in 1987,  following a wedding cake workshop at her cooking school, Mary Risley stared at what her students had just produced and agonized that no one was around to consume the goodies.   In that moment, an idea was born. A beautiful, simple idea.  So simple that the entire concept could fit on a post-it with room to spare. Mary put the seven cakes in her little Italian sports car and drove to Glide Memorial Church to donate them.  "I had frosting all over my car," Mary chortles in recollection.

Cake workshop at Tante Marie's Cooking School.
25 years later, Mary's little post-it idea boasts over 250 volunteers, almost 600 donors and over 200 recipients.  It's simple: citizens (volunteers)  pick up leftover food from local businesses (donors) and deliver it to agencies serving those in need (recipients). That's it.  1 - 2 - 3.  Everybody wins.

Volunteers wins:
"I love the immediacy of running food and the people I've met on both sides of the process are truly inspiring. I know it's been said many times, but, what you get in return so outweighs the giving, that I feel totally selfish about being a Food Runners volunteer."  Ora S.

"There's a sense of joy that's truly incomparable when you complete a food run.  The knowledge that you've rescued completely good food that would  have otherwise been thrown away and then turned around and given it to people in need is is definitely amazing."  David S.

"Every week since I joined Food Runners, I have felt humbled as well as fulfilled to know that I have this small chance to give back to the community that has, for years, and still does, support me."  Mary C-R.

Volunteer Mary C-R collecting donations from Happy Boy Farms at the Castro Street Farmers Market.
Donors win:
"Our in-house trainings always generate too much food.  I can't stand seeing it thrown away. It just isn't right."  Steve at Sephora University.

"No more composting all this good food.  Because of Food Runners, I get to save the company on composting fees,  save the environment AND do the right thing!"  Head chef of the corporate cafeteria at large tech company headquarters in SOMA.

"We have in-house lunches every Thursday and there's always leftovers. It would be a crime to throw the food away.  Thanks to Food Runners, we don't have to."  Michelle, Office Manager at Mocana.

Recipients win:
"The food that your volunteer brings on Tuesdays goes a long way for us.  We serve the children first and whatever is left goes to our seniors."  Jane at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House.

"You have no idea the degree to which Food Runners is helping this community.  There is so much need up here on the hill.  We can't thank Food Runners enough."  Emanuel Hepburn, Hunter's View Community.

"The food donations have been really great.  The biggest problem is always protein: having enough with enough variety, etc. and having the time to cook it. Food Runners has saved our Saturday Program lunches.  Almost always a protein.  Always delicious!" Yasi of Community Focus.

Typical Saturday meal concocted of tech company donations delivered to Community Focus by Food Runners.
Everybody wins. 1-2-3.  Simple.   Twenty-five years ago, while staring at leftover wedding cakes, Mary figured it out.  "There's enough food out there for everyone. It's a matter of distribution."  After twenty five years, Mary Risley's little post-it idea continues to make a big difference to San Franciscans in need.

The parties!  The galas!  The food!  Sooo much food.  So many leftovers.  The Halloween costumes are stashed and now Aunt Isabel is rifling through the cedar chest in search of the damask table cloth large enough for the family table when all the leaves inserted.  The Season of Excess has officially begun. Food Runners volunteers love this time of year.  Showing up with food for those in need is gratifying at anytime, but showing up during the holidays with carloads twice their normal size makes volunteers' hearts expand to three times their normal size.

Want to join the fun?  There  are many ways to donate to Food Runners during the holiday season.
  • Become a Food Runners volunteer.  Bet you'll get hooked!
  • Out of town or no time to run food?  Make a financial donation.
  • Donate food. Although Food Runners does not pick up from private homes, we will happily direct you to an agency serving those in need in your area.
Over the bridges and through the hills, to holiday feasts we go...  Do you know what's happening to the leftovers at the all the dinners and parties you'll be attending this season?  Tell the host/caterer/event coordinator about Food Runners.  Now that's the holiday spirit!